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Asus Vivotab RT Review

December 20, 2012

 

Previously, I wrote about my experience using the Microsoft Surface. I use the Surface, personally, as my primary computer. However, I watched my wife using her ultraportable laptop without a touchscreen and I realized that she too would really benefit from having a new Windows device. Older laptops work fine with Windows 8, but they are missing the special Windows 8 keys on the keyboard. They also don’t have all of the nice new touchpad gestures which make working in Windows 8 so easy. It isn’t hard to convince me that I should get another piece of technology, however, which device should I get for my wife?

 

For myself, I use my device as a tablet first and a laptop second. This configuration is perfect for the Microsoft Surface. However, knowing my wife, she will use the device as a laptop first and a tablet second. Why does that matter? Well, if you are going to use a device in the traditional clamshell configuration there are some nice benefits of using a device like the Asus Vivotab RT. For starters, the traditional keyboard is more comfortable to use in the lap because you can position it more comfortably since the kickstand isn’t required. Additionally, when using the physical keyboard, the device has an incredible 18 hour battery life (extra battery in the keyboard). Simply put, you can’t get better than that!

 

Keyboard

 

For myself, the keyboard is far too cramped and compared with the type keyboard from the Surface, the experience typing is night and day different. The Surface offers a superior experience. On the other hand, for someone with smaller hands, like my wife, she gets along with the Asus keyboard with absolutely no problems. I have asked her about it specifically just to ensure that after more time her opinion hasn’t changed. She really does believe the keyboard is fine.

 

Tablet

 

The tablet itself is a great feeling device. It’s shocking how light it feels. It’s well balanced and feels solid. It is very responsive and feels great to use as a tablet. The screen seems bright enough and well, I really don’t have any complaints. Overall, I would say as a tablet, it is a very solid little device.

 

Laptop

 

As a laptop, the device hums along. By clicking the tablet into the dock keyboard, you feel a little vibration to make sure you know it’s fully docked. Just like about any touchscreen laptop, you will most likely find (as I do) that you use the device but often instead of using the trackpad, you instead find yourself typing and reaching for the touchscreen. The combination of laptop and touchscreen just becomes second nature. In fact, if you find yourself back using a traditional laptop without the touchscreen, you will catch yourself reaching out and tapping the screen or swiping the screen without thought. The quickest thought of, “what’s going on”, will pass right before you catch yourself and remember the device doesn’t have a touchscreen.

 

Operating System – Windows RT

 

Overall, this device operates pretty perfectly. As a laptop, just like any device running Windows RT, you can only install apps from the app store and you can’t run any legacy apps. Since you can only run apps that are available from the Store it make the Windows RT device incredibly simple to use and manage. If you want an app, search the store. Period.

 

I was wondering how this would work on my home network. I have a wireless printer, but you can’t go out and install 3rd party applications. I opened a Word document (which is part of the Office 2013 package that comes pre-loaded on all Windows RT devices) and clicked on the file print menu, sure enough my Epson wireless printer was discovered on the network. The drivers were automatically updated and the device just worked. Huh, how do you like that? Even with Windows RT, using devices like USB thumb drives, external DVD drives, USB hubs and yes, printers, work just fine. This kind of closes the book on the assessment, Windows RT can function as a full functioning laptop, well, almost.

 

As I have already mentioned, you can’t run legacy apps. But, luckily, that shouldn’t be a major show stopper. This is especially true if you happen to have an old desktop hanging around the house. As I pointed out in the review for the Surface, you can run the “Remote Desktop Connection” application and connect to your desktop computer to run any legacy apps. By using the remote desktop, you can seriously run anything and it looks and feels like it’s running on your machine locally. Consider the advantages of doing this? Instead of purchasing a $1000 laptop, you can instead purchases a $500-600 Windows RT device which has serious benefits of portability and battery life. Then, if you need the computing power of the old desktop, you run the app and just like that you can do anything.

 

Running remote desktop, is incredibly simple:

 

1. Go to the desktop, search for “remote” and click on settings.

 

2. Select “allow remote connections to your desktop” and click the checkbox.

 

3. From your Windows RT device, run the remote desktop app and type the name of the machine.

 

That’s it. As long as you are logging into the same “account on the RT device as you use on the Windows 8 desktop, there is nothing else to it. Please note, I provided the directions using Windows 8 because I installed it on my old desktop. I will write about that experience on the next article…running Windows 8 on an old desktop.

 

Conclusion

 

Overall, I think you can’t go wrong if you select the Asus Vivotab as your Windows RT device of choice. It’s fast, light and the battery life is simply amazing. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of the keyboard, but again, for someone with smaller hands, it really works fine. As for the build of the machine and the performance as a tablet, it’s great.

 

Update

 

After using the Vivotab for just over one month, I returned my wife’s Vivotab and purchased another Surface tablet. I don’t know if the problems I experienced were specifically an Asus hardware issue, or if it was a driver issue; however, because my experience with the Surface was so much better, I decided not to mess with it.

 

There were problems with “ghost” clicking on the screen. You could see the finger marks when you were not touching the device. The tablet performed flawlessly for a month and then the problems started. It seemed likely the problems were related to an update; however, I saw the same behavior on a demo unit at Best Buy and a demo unit at the AT&T store. After reviewing several devices, it definitely seems that this problem is something specific to Asus.

 

I don’t want to let this chase you off as the device seemed rock solid for the first month, but I did want to share my personal decision.

 

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From → Technology

2 Comments
  1. Lief permalink

    yes saw the same things with the “ghost fingers” only after it did its auto update for firm ware, afterwards to make it work i dropped the screen resolution down one notch (best way to describe the RT’s way or screen resolution adjustment) given as i am not currently in an area to send it to ASUS for repair or what ever. This seems to be a solid “temporary” fix to a definite problem with the Vivo RT. How ever otherwise i am fairly pleased with it. I would say over all its not bad. They just need to not mess with the firmware version

  2. Thank you for your words about the device. They were very helpful regarding my decision to purchase it.

    In case others pop by here (since the post pops up quite often for searches I’ve done regarding the VivoTab RT), the touchscreen issue seems to be resolved. This (great) review was posted some time ago. I’ve purchased my Vivotab RT a couple of weeks ago and have never experienced the touchscreen problem. Looks like MS/Asus solved it through an update at some point after the author’s last update.

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